Laois man with special needs writes plea to HSE to keep RehabCare in Portlaoise

Michelle Hogan

Reporter:

Michelle Hogan

Laois man with special needs writes plea to HSE to keep RehabCare in Portlaoise

A young Laois man who uses RehabCare services in Portlaoise has written a letter to the HSE pleading for its services to stay open as it is threatened by a lack of funding.

Edward Coughlan from Ballyfin has special needs and he has asked the HSE ‘Please don’t close the RehabCare centre in Portlaoise’. He uses the service four days a week.

Almost 60 people with various physical and intellectual disabilities are supported by the day service in Portlaoise.

In a letter, he has written: “I go to the RehabCare Centre, Portlaoise Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I really like going into the RehabCare Centre Portlaoise, they are really nice and kind to all of us the service users.

“I don’t know what I will do if I will not be able to go into the RehabCare Centre, Portlaoise,” he wrote.

Edward’s mother Helen Coughlan said the service is a ‘life-saver’ and said the welfare and self-worth of the special needs community need to be a number one priority.

“It has been a life saver for him, providing him with a structure for his life that most of us get from employment and that without RehabCare would not be there for him.

“He is very worried about the news that it may shut down due to lack of funding as it is a really important part of his life.

“The staff are phenomenal and he has developed in so many ways due to their input. The kindness and care he gets there cannot be measured in financial terms and Ireland as a nation must look at ourselves if we do not see the welfare and self-worth of our special needs community as a number one priority.

“I cannot describe the worry and heartache this is causing us. It is challenging enough caring for a special needs person without having to constantly fight for every concession.

“We look to the politicians and the HSE to ensure this fantastic facility is properly funded to let them continue their great work, giving special needs people the quality of life they deserve,” she said.

The Rehab Group over the Portlaoise centre is in crunch talks with the HSE over terminating its services for over 3,000 people in Ireland. Talks are due to end on Wednesday.

RehabGroup announced its intention to give 12 months’ notice that it was to terminate its 147 RehabCare services at 117 locations across the country unless it received an injection of €2 million urgent funding. This action follows more than two years of negotiation between the Group and the HSE.

Almost 60 people with various physical and intellectual disabilities use the service in Portlaoise.

Deirdre Bailey is the manager of RehabCare Resource Centre, Portlaoise.

“For a number of years now, the money RehabCare has received from the HSE hasn’t been enough to fully cover the services that we provide.

“Rehab Group has been making up for this lack of funding from its own reserves which are now nearly fully depleted,” she said.

A day of action will be held at the Portlaoise centre on Main Street this Friday, May 17 11:00 am to 1:00 pm to find out more about RehabCare and to support the Save RehabCare’s Services campaign. 

Rehab Group has asked the people of Laois to get behind its campaign to save vital disability services it provides to adults and children in the county.

Supporters in Laois are being urged to contact their TDs and senators to express how much the services mean to them.

There is an email campaign on rehab.ie where people are encouraged to speak up for the services. 

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